It’s been forty-two years since I first met Mr. and Mrs. B.
I will never forget that day. The former husband and I were dating and he took me to meet his childhood buddy and wife. Being just 19, still somewhat naive, and brought up by conservative parents who believed in manners, I was about to encounter a bit of a shock.
As we drove down a long, gravel driveway, this black dog came bounding to meet us, tail wagging, appearing friendly. However, when I got out of the car, I saw that the dog’s teeth were bared and she was making this odd sound that I assumed was a growl. Former husband saw me stiffen and back up and said, “Oh, that’s Sassy. She’s friendly and just smiling at you.”
Then he told Sassy to roll over and she did. In a heartbeat.
Apparently he and Mrs. B’s son had taught Sassy how to properly greet guests upon arrival, except I had never seen a dog smile like that before or since. It was hilarious once I knew what she was doing.
Anyhow, getting back to meeting Mr. and Mrs. B. This is where my conservative manner training went into gasp mode.
We walked directly into the house without knocking (gasp #1). Then, since Mr. and Mrs. B were not within eyesight, former husband yelled something like, “Hey, where the h*ll are you? We’re here!” (gasp #2) I seem to remember they were both upstairs and yelled back that they would be right down. So, the former walked over to the refrigerator and opened it up to see what was inside.
After performing gasp #3, I said, “What are you doing? Don’t you ask before going into someone’s refrigerator?”
He replied with a shrug, “What? They’re my friends!” I gasped again (#4) for good measure and in memory of the dearly departed manners.
Soon after the former popped open a soda he found in the fridge, Mr. and Mrs. B came down the stairs and greeted us with a hello and we carried on with our visit. I don’t remember what was said after that, but Mr. and Mrs. B welcomed me with open arms and I was their friend forever by the time we left.
I wrote a couple of paragraphs about Mrs. B (Margie) in 2013, how she turned me onto flower gardening and gave me a passion every spring to find new varieties of the beauties that need a home. While she has pared down the gardening and I have pared down the number of flower pots on the patio, we still talk about our earthly delights and many other topics of interest. Our conversations never seem to peter out, not even after 42 years. Phone conversations are always an hour or more and in person, we never have moments of awkward silence. Margie is a friend who is easy-peasy to wear, like a soft pair of yoga pants that are always comfortable and forgiving.
Margie forgives my odd sense of humor because it’s her odd sense of humor too. We send each other stupid, silly birthday cards and never fail to crack each other up at some point in our conversations. Margie couldn’t hold it together during our last phone call when I reminded her I am old enough for senior discounts. I was being serious, she thought it funny. Probably because Margie still remembers the wide-eyed 19 year old who was gasping over what she thought was bad mannered behavior by her then boyfriend. How could I ever be this old?
At that first visit, I do remember Margie telling me that if I want something, there’s (pointing) the refrigerator. Go help yourself.
So, I did and have been for 42 years. I know where the soda and coffee pot are. I put my feet up on the couch. I talk trash with Mr. and Mrs. B while eating their food. I sometimes mess up their guest bedroom. Neither have stopped being my friend because I chose to leave the former. They are friends with him and they are friends with me. No taking sides.
Sassy is long gone and so are her pups, but the memory of a smiling dog never fades and it’s the same with the beginning of a solid friendship.
I love Mr. and Mrs. B with all my heart. Even though our visits have become less frequent (they live 93 miles away), they are often on my mind. We can go many moons without talking, but it never feels that way. It’s like a favorite soap opera – we have some catching up to do after an extended absence, but the characters and plot remain much the same.
Margie has a big birthday coming up in October. She turns a milestone and it’s one that’s hard for me to fathom. I still think of her in younger terms when she was engulfed in summer flower gardening and the four of us would go on the occasional motorcycle adventure. How could she be this old? How could we be this old?
It’s what happens with a long-term friendship.
We live life together and apart, and suddenly someone is getting a senior discount.
And making the other laugh.